Your adrenal glands are important because they help you respond to stress. But if you have chronic, long-term stress, your adrenals (and the stress hormone cortisol) get over used and are no longer able to respond. This means your energy plummets and you feel simultaneously feel tired and wired. Some people get palpitations, feel anxious or have trouble sleeping and others might crave salt or get dizzy when they stand up from low blood pressure. Many people have sugar cravings because their bodies can no longer regulate blood sugar properly and are desperate for some energy. We start to crave coffee and other stimulants to feel better but these only work in the short term, if at all and are detrimental in the long term.
We get adrenal burnout from the chronic, unremitting and ongoing stresses of everyday life: stresses of our families, stresses of relationships, stresses of work, the stresses of constant interaction with Facebook and Twitter and the online world. There is not enough emphasis on putting aside time to rest and relax. You don't have to 'do' anything else - just resting is enough. Naps are a great way to reset and are you key tool to reversing adrenal burnout.
You can help to heal your adrenals by adopting a whole food, anti-inflammatory diet. Focus on anti-inflammatory foods including wild fish and other sources of omega-3 fats, red and purple berries, dark green leafy vegetables' orange sweet potatoes and nuts.
Add anti-inflammatory herbs to your food, such as turmeric , ginger and rosemary. Eliminate inflammatory foods such as refined oils, like corn, soy and safflower oils. And don’t skip meals. It can be hard for your body to recover from skipping meals if you have adrenal dysfunction.
Find ways to actively relax. Relaxation is an active choice. It is not being lazy. You could also do gentle (eg yin not ashtanga) yoga or take a warm bath at night. If you put two cups of Epsom salts, half a cup of baking soda and 10 drops of lavender oil in the bath then soak for 20 minutes it really relaxes your body and lifts your spirits. Lavender oil lowers cortisol and helps to balance the whole hormonal system. After this bath, you will end up with a really decreased stress response.
Very simple things have profound effects. Exercise is important for our minds and bodies — gentle, regular exercise like a morning walk, a light jog, a little bike ride. Do something out in the fresh air to get natural light that affects your pineal gland and helps reset your brain and the stress response.
Try to establish a regular rhythm to your days (I know this is more difficult if you're working shifts). Rhythm is the key because your hormones are balanced in rhythms. Waking at the same time every day, going to bed at the same time every day, eating at the same time every day — these are the rhythms in life that help to reset your natural balance. Following your natural rhythms of work and rest during the day is also essential. Take natural breaks when you are tired. Our bodies function best on rhythm cycles of 90 minutes of activity punctuated by a few minutes of resting or zoning out!